Telecaster pickup upgrade...Don Mare did it again!

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by VaughnC, Apr 12, 2016.

  1. VaughnC

    VaughnC Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2002
    A few years ago, Don Mare ended my Strat pickup quest for a mid 60's Fender sound with what came to be known as his "Josie/Vaughn" set. Point being, Don & I seem to have similar ears as he knew exactly the sound I was chasing when I said "mid 60's Fender"...and he came closer than any others I've tried.

    Fast forward, a couple years ago I decided to build a Telecaster, just for fun, when I saw the Stew-Mac raw knotty pine body's they just started selling to see where it would take me. For a neck, I chose an AllParts 60's style with rosewood fingerboard that I refretted with gold EVO wire and finished with clear poly. I had a set of Fender Custom shop Tele pickups laying around and threw them in the project Tele and it sounded ok...but nothing really special to my ears. Didn't play it much, but it was a fun occasional diversion from a Strat.

    Fast forward to a couple months ago, I stumbled across a killer sounding ash/maple Tele at my local dealer that sounded/played so well that it had to come home with me...which rekindled my interest in Tele's. It sounded so good right off the rack that I felt it didn't really need any modifications or improvements. And, of all things, it's a stock MIM, Fender, Baja model :eek:!

    Ok, so that's a great Tele...then I got to thinking about the knotty pine Tele I previously built sitting in the corner and wondered if Don Mare could work his magic with it like he did in my Strat quest. So, I ordered a basic 1953 pickup set that Don calls his 4709's. The pickups arrived a few days ago and they took my knotty pine Tele from "ok" to "wow". Full, clear, dynamic, with no ice pick is the best way I can describe them...amazing! While I was at it, I wired in a 4way switch for series & parallel, and a pull pot for out of phase clucky sounds.

    Obviously, with one Tele being ash/maple/maple and the other being pine/maple/rosewood, they do sound very different...but they both bring something usable to the table. Personal taste...ultimately, I think I prefer the snap of the ash/maple/maple format in a Tele...but each does things the other won't do. However, I'm glad I put the Mare 4709 pickups in my pine Tele...made an ok Tele something special. Great job Don!

    Here's the knotty pine parts-o-caster in its current incarnation:

    And here's the stock Baja Tele that rekindled my interest in Tele's:

    Geez...I think I'm now hooked on Tele's ;).
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2016
    Lewguitar, Decal, mad dog and 2 others like this.

    SPROING! Member

    Dec 5, 2011
    Teles are like crack. Highly addictive and will keep you up all night.
    Rod, Roe and songtalk like this.
  3. songtalk

    songtalk Member

    Sep 13, 2014

    Those teles are wonderful, my dude, and I'm stoked you dig em, but the reason they sound different is Don Mare 53s are radically different sounding from a Twisted Tele neck and Broadcaster bridge pickup.

    With the same sets of pickups in each, you'd have a hard time telling their sounds apart blindfolded in a room through an amp.

    Pickups make a world of difference in many guitars though as you originally discovered via that strat.
  4. telelion

    telelion Member

    Dec 19, 2002
    I've been reading your posts for a long time and recall your guitar journeys. Sounds like you nailed it with the Mare's. A great pickup or a great match in my experience is semi-rare(meaning totally satisfied) as most pickups end up being pretty much the same and middle of the road but do the job. The really stand out ones make you realize that there is the right pickup for a good instrument specimen and the search is worth it.

    I am with you on the wood combos though that is the third rail on TGP these days. I was just recently conversing with the man who wrote the book(Blackguard) and he is in the third rail camp. He said no pickup is worth chasing for a fundamentally mediocre guitar which I readily concur with in my decades of playing.

    On more thing. The perloid pickguard has got to go on the Pinecaster. Something white though and if you do, follow it up so we can see it. Otherwise absolutely killer looking piece of pine.
  5. mad dog

    mad dog Silver Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2005
    Montclair, NJ
    I like that pine tele. Handsome!
  6. big mike

    big mike David Grissom Wannabee Staff Member

    Oct 31, 2003
    Teles rule!!!
    I love Dons stuff
  7. MR.K

    MR.K Member

    Apr 10, 2007
    Dons Joel Foy 4709's are my favorite, have a 10k-0038 and a Donocaster too. I'm waiting for a 11.5-0038, should be here in a couple of days. Don Mares for me.

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